Pink gloves, black eye

Bombers fullback Jon Oosterhuis was fined $250 for wearing pink gloves last week. (QMI Agency/Brian...

Bombers fullback Jon Oosterhuis was fined $250 for wearing pink gloves last week. (QMI Agency/Brian Donogh)

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

WINNIPEG - The CFL has sneezed all over itself.

Believe it or not, the tall foreheads who run the league have actually fined its own players for helping promote a charity just because they did not meet the letter of the law.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers fullback Jon Oosterhuis, for one, was fined $250 for wearing pink gloves in support of cancer awareness during a regular season game against the Toronto Argonauts on Oct. 23.

Incredibly, the fine was for violating uniform policy, which states that players must wear team-approved colours only. (The Bombers, by the way, were all for dressing their players in pink).

Oosterhuis told reporters in Edmonton on Friday that he accepted the verdict without complaint.

“I broke the dress code rules, so I got fined,” he said. “I don’t mind.”

The fines actually mean more free publicity for the cause and an embarrassment to the Canadian circuit.

“I wore the gloves and the results showed for themselves,” Oosterhuis said.

The CFL had denied a request for the players to wear pink on their uniforms in support of the charity this month. The NFL has a similar uniform rule, but they made an exemption during October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month — allowing its players to don pink colours.

“It’s very frustrating because this is a professional league, and the NFL is a professional league, and that whole league supports pink and breast cancer and stuff like that, and I don’t understand why this league don’t support it and I never will,” Saskatchewan defensive tackle Marcus Adams, who was also fined, told NewsTalk 980 in Regina.

“We don’t really have any comment on this particular issue,” said Jason Permanand, communications specialist for the Canadian Cancer Society, Manitoba Division. “We always support cancer awareness as much as possible, but we don’t have any way of understanding how sports franchises work.”

Permanand added that it was actually a campaign initiated by the Canadian Breast Care Foundation, but a Foundation spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Most of the Bombers wore pink gloves during practices in early October to help raise money for the Keeping Abreast Fund in support of breast cancer reconstruction surgery, research and education. The gloves were autographed and placed online for auction. The CFL does allow teams to do that.

The CFL has said it prefers not to support one cause over another — despite the fact the teams were allowed to wear pink in practices — but is considering doing something for the 2011 season.

“If we are going to allow our uniforms to be used to support any single cause, we need to ensure it is done the right way, backed by a comprehensive, league-wide public awareness and fundraising campaign, something that wasn’t in place this season but that we’re considering for next season,” CFL commissioner Mark Cohon recently wrote on CFL.ca, the league’s website.

“We also need to ensure that in embracing one cause through our uniform policy, we are being fair to the many others who turn to our league for support.”

In other words, in the age of instant messaging, the CFL needs a year to make such a decision.

Meanwhile, the CFL will continue to fine players for taking up the cause when it could have easily turned a blind eye, rules or no rules — especially when it turns a blind eye to at least one other rule.

SPEAKING OUT

Some comments from Winnipeg Sun readers:

“Fined for supporting cancer awareness? Isn’t it bad enough that the CFL looks bush-league with their flag-happy officiating, but now they actually fine players for their support of cancer awareness.”

— Greysky

“It’s very important that the CFL have control over something. TSN controls when the games are played, referees control who wins. But never, never, never, should a CFL player support cancer research without Mark Cohon’s permission.”

— Peter

“($250) is a stupid fine ... maybe if they wanted to enforce the rule, try a little charity, donate the money to Breast Cancer Awareness fund to save face.”

— Eldorado

“Another classless move by the CFL when the league is trying to find ways to get more support it makes fools of themselves by insinuating they will re-assess next year. Isn’t that like saying we made a mistake but aren’t going to admit it or we’ll get back to you.”

— Bropete

“Everyone was wearing pink tape etc in the past while. Even kids playing high school football wore pink to support this cause. And the CFL fines a player for showing support? Get your act together CFL.”

— Fix your crappy ref


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